Archive | Politics

The difference between birth control and contraception

Karen Swallow Prior has written a crash-course in the difference between birth control and contraception at Christianity Today. If you didn’t know that there was a difference, this article is definitely for you. A couple of items here are noteworthy:

1. Prior takes on Rachel Held Evans and others who confuse “birth control” with other medicinal uses of the pill. She writes: Continue Reading →

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The executive order has an exemption after all… but it’s not enough

Last week, I wrote about two different groups petitioning the President about a forthcoming Executive Order (EO). News reports said that the EO would prohibit government contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. A group of prominent religious leaders wrote the President asking him to include religious exemptions, but a group of legal scholars wrote asking him to do the opposite. Continue Reading →

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Is the government obligated to disfavor Christians?

In my last post, I highlighted an open letter sent to President Obama last month requesting a religious exemption in a forthcoming executive order. Yesterday, a group of legal scholars sent a letter to the President requesting the exact opposite. If you want to understand the logic of those who care little for religious freedom, you need to read this letter. I will highlight one salient section. It reads, Continue Reading →

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Are Christian Colleges free to be Christian?

Are Christian colleges still free to be Christian in this country? You may think that an unserious question, but if you’ve been paying attention to recent events surrounding Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, you know it’s a very pressing question indeed.

Last month, Gordon College President Michael Lindsay added his signature to an open letter asking President Obama to include a religious exemption in a forthcoming executive order. The executive order will bar federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Thus any group receiving federal funds would be subject to this order. Those who signed the letter—including Rick Warren, Gabe Lyons, and several others—are concerned that the president’s executive order would prevent some religious organizations from requiring employees to hold to a Christian sexual ethic. Continue Reading →

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Are evangelicals changing their views on gay marriage?

Jim Hinch has a rather ambitious analysis of evangelical piety at Politico titled, “Evangelicals Are Changing Their Minds on Gay Marriage: And the Bible isn’t getting in their way.” The title reveals the fundamental flaw in this article. The flaw also appears in the fact that Hinch treats members of the Presbyterian Church USA and the United Church of Christ as bellwethers of evangelical opinion. Hinch appears to be a little fuzzy as to what an evangelical is. These are very strange evangelicals indeed—those who give little heed to the authority of scripture and who are members of liberal mainline churches. Continue Reading →

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Grateful but Sobered by the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby Verdict

I have said before, and I will say it again that Obamacare’s contraception mandate forces one of the most egregious violations of religious liberty in our nation’s history. It forces pro-life business owners to pay for insurance plans that cover abortion-inducing birth control methods. For this reason, there was much at stake today in the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

That is why I breathed a sigh of relief when the Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby earlier today. In a narrow decision (5-4), the Court ruled that the federal government cannot run roughshod over the religious liberty of its citizens. In short, the Court found that the government must find the least restrictive means possible to advance the government’s compelling interest in providing free contraception to women. The Court’s majority said that the contraception mandate is in no way the “least restrictive means.” Not by a longshot. Because of this, the mandate runs afoul of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993). And so the Court found that Hobby Lobby does not have to submit to this unjust and coercive mandate embedded in Obamacare. Continue Reading →

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What’s at stake in the Hobby Lobby decision tomorrow?

Ross Douthat said something last week that sums up my feelings exactly: “Not ashamed to say that I fear only three things: nuclear war, carnies, and the Hobby Lobby decision.” It is a clever line that might have been funny if it weren’t true. There is so much riding on what the Supreme Court decides tomorrow morning. What is so alarming about our national debate, however, is that so few of our countryman seem to be aware of what is actually at stake. The court could do the right thing and protect our first freedom, or the court could end religious liberty as we know it. Is anyone paying attention? Continue Reading →

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Supreme Court strikes down “buffer zones” outside abortion clinics

The Supreme Court just ruled that “buffer zones” outside abortion clinics restrict the free speech of sidewalk counselors wishing to persuade women not to have abortions. The decision nullifies a Massachusetts law that creates such zones. The court overturned the law in a unanimous 9-0 ruling. So far, so good.

There is another side to this ruling, however, that is not so good. The Court refused to recognize that the Massachusetts law unfairly targeted pro-life speech in particular. For this reason, Scalia issues a scathing opinion. He writes: Continue Reading →

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Heads-up about Supreme Court on Hobby Lobby

It is very likely that the Supreme Court will issue its verdict this week in the Hobby Lobby Case (aka, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc). When it comes down, the court’s decision has the potential to be the most consequential religious liberty case in our lifetimes. It could set the trajectory for religious liberty—for good or for ill—for generations to come.

What’s at stake? Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate requires certain employers to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs. That means that some Christian and other pro-life employers will be forced to violate their consciences or face crippling fines from the government.

I have no idea how the Court will rule on this. Will it be a decided on first amendment grounds? Or will be on statutory grounds? I really don’t know. I don’t have confidence in Chief Justice John Roberts, simply because he whiffed it so badly in his last at-bat on Obamacare.

Whatever happens, it’s likely to carry implications for religious liberty that go far beyond Obamacare. Can the government use its coercive power to force citizens to violate their consciences? The Court will tell us the answer to that question very soon. Stay tuned.

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